From BTS and Blackpink to Park Seo-joon and Jun Ji-hyun, which K-pop and K-drama celebs raked in the most millions from advertisements in 2021?

We love the phrase they use for TV advertisements in South Korea—Commercial Films, or CFs. It almost makes you think that these aren’t ads designed to make you buy stuff, but works of art—well-made cinematic masterpieces with big budgets and artistic merit. And to be honest, some of these CFs really are beautiful. And the celebs who star in them get paid huge bucks to endorse these brands and products. The money they make from these films, which can be shown on TV or on online platforms such as YouTube, are on top of the moolah they rake in from starring in K-dramas, and from album sales and concerts.

Suffice to say, these artists are very, very wealthy. Here are some of the top CF stars of South Korea in 2021.

Read more: 9 Highest-Paid K-Drama Stars: Kim Soo-Hyun, Hyun Bin, Song Hye-Kyo and More

1. BTS: US$55.1 million

Remember the McDonald’s BTS meal in June last year? The world’s hottest pop group made a cool US$8.5 million from that campaign. Granted, they have to split it among the seven of them, but still. While much of the world was still languishing in 2021, the BTS boys made 65 billion won (US$55.1 million) through commercials alone.

Among their memorable CFs last year was the ad to promote Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip3 phone, which was a snazzily-produced music video involving huge sets (including a subway train) and lots of dancing. Not to mention their continuing ambassadorship with car brand Hyundai, where they shoot high-budget music videos in exotic locales and shiny ad spots which surely involve plenty of pre- and post-production. Their CF for sports and athleisure brand Fila’s Fall 2021 collection was also on point, and who could forget all the amazing visuals and that stunning fashion film when they officially joined luxury label Louis Vuitton as brand ambassadors last year?

Despite the pandemic, BTS appeared in plenty of ads, and are the undisputed CF kings of Korean showbiz, while also dominating the music charts, social media… and the world?

Read more: BTS Officially Enters Guinness World Records 2022 Hall of Fame

2. Jun Ji-hyun: US$12.5 million

Veteran actress Jun Ji-hyun, most recently seen in Jirisan and Kingdom: Ashin of the North, isn’t just one of K-drama’s highest-paid actresses, she’s also a fixture on the Korean CF Queen list, and made 15 billion won (US$12.5 million) from appearing in more than a dozen ads last year. On top of being the first South Korean face for fashion brand Alexander McQueen, she was appointed brand ambassador for Fila last year. Basically, hers is a face that can, and has, launched a thousand lipsticks, perfumes, earrings, face creams and snacks.

Don't miss: Jun Ji-Hyun Debuts New Looks For Alexander McQueen's Spring 2021 Collection

3. Park Seo-joon: US$8.2 million

The Korean A-lister, who is set to appear in Hollywood blockbuster The Marvels in 2023, has been highly sought after for ads since his rise to fame via K-dramas like Fight For My Way, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? and Itaewon Class. This year, he starred in a CF for shoe brand Skechers, and shot campaigns for Chanel Beauty and Calvin Klein, among others. All these netted him a sweet 9.8 billion won (US$8.2 million).

Read more: The Minimalist Lamp that Korean Actor Park Seo-Joon Loves

4. Jo Jung-suk: US$6.5 million

Korean showbiz has a monthly ranking for the brand reputation of K-drama actors and actresses, and Hospital Playlist’s resident charmer Jo Jung-suk, who’s known for his friendly, cute and down-to-earth personality, often ranks well on these lists and topped the one for August 2021. This, coupled with the popularity of the two Hospital Playlist seasons in 2020 and 2021, gave Jo a stellar year, endorsement-wise, as he featured in at least 11 ads, including for Korea Telecom and Woongjin Skybori Barley Tea, bagging 7.7 billion won (US$6.5 million). 

In case you missed it: Hospital Playlist: 12 Reasons It’s the Healing Drama We All Need Right Now

5. Lee Hyeri: US$5 million

With her “Nation’s Little Sister” image, Reply 1998 actress and Girl’s Day member Hyeri has always been an endorsement darling, who can sell anything from ramen to hangover supplements. Last year, she’s said to have appeared in 13 ads and earned some 6 billion won (US$5 million), while also appearing in the hit K-drama My Roommate is a Gumiho. Currently starring in Moonshine, see the star flex her CF acting and modelling muscles in ads for liquid cold medicine Panpyrin, Viva City health supplements and fashion label JJ Jigott.   

Read more: 10 Korean Stars Who Went From Rags To Riches

6. Song Hye-kyo: US$480,000 per Instagram post

The K-drama golden girl who, until Squid Game’s Jung Ho-yeon burst onto the scene, was the most followed Korean actress on Instagram, with 12.6 million followers, apparently commands an eye-popping US$480,000 per IG post and earned at least US$3.2 million in 2021 from endorsements alone. The veteran actress is sought after by luxury brands, and represents K-beauty brand Sulwhasoo, jewellery label Chaumet, and is also Fendi’s first Korean global ambassador.

Read more: BTS, Song Hye-kyo and IU: 9 Korean Stars And Their Expensive Properties

7. Jennie from Blackpink: US$4.1 million

Of course a Blackpink member is on the list. Jennie got paid a whopping five billion won (US$4.1 million) for appearing in numerous ads last year, and is a certified CF Queen, especially after grabbing several endorsements from Bae Suzy, another Korean CF Queen. Last year, she signed new contracts with soju brand Chum Churum, vitamin drink Vita500 and nail label Dashing Diva. All three brands had previously signed Bae Suzy as their ambassador. Jennie’s luxury brand game is also strong, as she holds court as a Chanel ambassador, continues her design collab with eyewear brand Gentle Monster, models for Calvin Klein and pushes Hera cosmetics.

Read more: Inside the Stylish Home of Blackpink’s Jennie in South Korea

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